Ruminating on poo


I’ve decided not to include any pictures, because I’m classy, but I’m warning you now: this is a post about poo. When you spend so much time shuffling it from place to place, you tend to become an expert. And frankly, it’s interesting. Poo that originates in herbivores does not gross me out like omnivore or carnivore poo.

First off, the alpacas all poo in the same spot! Very, very convenient, if you are the one who has to clean up after them. Our ‘pacas have a spot inside, one in the paddock, and one in turnout. Immediately after we finish cleaning, they all run over from wherever they are, and take turns pooing in the freshly cleaned spot. Weird. I can only figure it is some sort of defensive mechanism, meant to mask their movements or numbers.

Alpacas have particularly inoffensive poo. They have efficient digestive systems, and their waste can be used immediately as fertilizer, without lengthy composting. I suspect it has something to do with them being ruminants, with chambered stomachs. They chew, swallow, regurgitate, chew again, and re-swallow, like cows and their cud. I’m a bit out of my depth here, but I think alpacas only have three chambers in their stomachs, and cows have four, but the process is similar.

Horses are NOT ruminants. Personally, I kind of wish they were. Any minor gastrointestinal upset has the potential to become life threatening with a horse, because they have very persnickety systems. We compost horse poo, which keeps it from burning the fields when we spread it in the spring and fall.

Heidi, Mom’s horse, is prone to using poo as a statement. Back when we first got her, she would poo in her water tank nearly every day. We’re not sure what exactly she was punishing us for, but she clearly wasn’t happy with something. It took some maneuvering to get herself in position for that one.

About cliffhousealpacas

Once upon a time, my dad drove by some funny looking animals standing on little dirt hills in a field. Thus, the dream of an alpaca ranch was born. Now, we are embarking on a grand adventure of raising alpacas and becoming fiber artists.
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